Before Tristan Thompson held the top spot on Kris Jenner’s blacklist, there was another one-time NBA player, Kris Humphries, whose short-lived marriage to Kim Kardashian ended in personal and almost professional ruin.
The couple famously called it quits a mere 72 days after tying the knot in a lavish and, of course, televised wedding ceremony in 2011 amid rumors that their romance was one big ratings stunt.
Both have since moved on, but the sting of a public-coupling-quickly-gone-bad lingered for Humphries long after, he revealed in a moving essay for The Players’ Tribune published Thursday, in which the 34-year-old announced his official retirement from pro basketball. After a 13-year career, he hadn’t played the past two seasons.
In the piece titled “I Never Wanted To Be That Guy,” Humphries details the fallout from the relationship, which he insists was “100% real.” He discusses how he never expected his personal life to overwhelm his sports career.
“I met a girl who happened to be really famous, and I got married, and ... Damn,” Humphries wrote.
“There’s definitely a lot about that world that is not entirely real. But our actual relationship was 100% real. When it was clear that it wasn’t working … what can I say? It sucked,” he continued. “It’s never easy to go through the embarrassment of something like that — with your friends, with your family ... But when it plays out so publicly, in front of the world, it’s a whole other level. It was brutal.”
Humphries recalled getting heckled on and off the court following the split, which he said undercut his confidence and led to a struggle with anxiety that put him in a “dark place.”
“I didn’t want to leave my home. You feel like … I don’t know … the whole world hates you, but they don’t even know why,” he said. “They don’t even know you at all. They just recognize your face, and they’re on you.”
At one point, the athlete confessed he “didn’t want to be Kris Humphries” because of the backlash, and he felt that his continued presence on the court would be an affront to the game he cherishes.
“I didn’t even want to say anything to defend myself, because it felt like I couldn’t win,” he said. “You can’t go up against the tabloids. You can’t go up against that machine. There’s no point.”
In the years since the two split, various members of the KarJenner brood have slammed Humphries in the press, with the sisters agreeing he was their “least favorite” of Kim’s exes. Khloe Kardashian even called Humphries a “fucking loser” in a 2016 interview, in which the reality TV star revealed she tried to persuade Kim not to marry him at the time.
Humphries in his essay said that at the end of the day he’s not looking for pity, but hopes people will see him beyond his failed marriage to Kardashian. He’s already opened multiple Five Guys hamburger outlets across the Midwest ― with plans to soon open several Crisp & Green franchises ― and he intends to spend his retirement pursuing other business ventures.
“I was never a person who wanted to be famous. I’m a guy from Minnesota who loves the game of basketball,” he wrote. “And yeah, 99 times out of 100, when people come up to me, it’s still “Bro, are you that dude?”
To read Humphries full essay, head over to The Players’ Tribune.